New Deal For CUNY Legislation Would Enact Free Tuition, Fix Infrastructure & Set Improved Staff-to-Student Ratios
Bronx, NY – Today (March 27, 2021), members of the CUNY Rising Alliance and the Professional Staff Congress rallied at Hostos Community College and marched to the Bronx County Courthouse alongside students, community members and lawmakers in support of increased funding for City University of New York and New Deal for CUNY legislation. The New Deal for CUNY would establish minimum staff-to-student ratios for mental health counselors, academic advisors and full-time faculty at CUNY over a five-year period while raising pay for adjunct faculty and enacting free tuition.
The State budget deadline is April 1, next week. The marchers and their supporters in the Legislature believe increased investment in CUNY is critical to New York’s recovery from the COVID recession. They’re ready to end decades of racialized austerity for CUNY.
The Legislature’s one-house budget bills, which form the basis of final budget negotiations with Governor Cuomo, already reject millions of dollars in CUNY budget cuts planned by the Governor. Instead, the Legislature wants to allocate funding to freeze current tuition for CUNY colleges and close the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) gap, which is a structural deficit created each year by the difference between the amount of money colleges get from the state for students on TAP and the actual tuition.
At a press conference at the Courthouse, speakers from PSC/CUNY, CUNY University Student Senate, NYPIRG and other groups called on Assembly and Senate leaders to raise additional revenue through taxes on the ultra-rich. Assembly Members Karines Reyes, Kenny Burgos, Chantel Jackson, and Nathalia Ferndandez spoke as well, along with NYC Council Member Vanessa Gibson. Speakers pushed for a final budget that is even more ambitious for CUNY than the one-house budgets and urged passage of the New Deal for CUNY, sponsored by Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblymember Karines Reyes.
“The New Deal for CUNY would dramatically enhance the college experience for so many low-income students of color. Campuses like Hostos would be able to thrive at their optimum capacities when adequate resources are provided to their students, faculty, and staff. Funding the New Deal for CUNY is especially important for schools like Hostos that have worked so hard to act as an accessible gateway that has helped bridge the gap for so many New Yorkers. By investing in CUNY, we are in turn investing in the future of New York. The time to fund the New Deal for CUNY is now!” said Assemblymember Karines Reyes.
“Increased CUNY funding and the New Deal for CUNY legislation are critical to building an inclusive economy and a stronger university. The Legislature is on the cusp of reversing the pattern of planned poverty that has left too many CUNY students without the resources and support they need. We thank the Senate and Assembly for the bold investments for CUNY they have proposed and urge them to demand a final budget that includes even the more progressive revenue, more investment in CUNY and passage of the New Deal for CUNY bill,” said Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress.
A recent report released by Comptroller Scott Stringer found that “CUNY graduates working in New York earned a combined $57 billion annually in 2019 — $28.6 billion more than students would have earned without a postsecondary degree”. Speakers at the courthouse underscored CUNY’s power to drive a just recovery by citing the University’s nation-leading record of empowering low-income students to ascend the middle class and beyond. The Comptroller’s report also revealed that CUNY graduates contributed $4.2 billion to the state’s coffers in 2019.
“We need to invest in our higher education system immediately. I am proud to support a New Deal for CUNY so that our students have free high quality education and the resources they deserve,” said Assemblywoman Nathalia Fernández to the crowd at Hostos.
“For years, the state’s continued divestment has starved CUNY, one of the principal economic drivers of New York City. Over the past decade, New York’s students have contributed over $2.5 billion in additional costs for funding our colleges in the state. Students have done their share, now it is time for the wealthiest members of society to step up and do their part. NYPIRG is proud to stand with students, faculty, and staff in calling on the state to finally do the right thing and invest in the state’s young people by passing the New Deal For CUNY,” said Ryan Thoresen Carson, NYPIRG Higher Education Campaign Coordinator.